A YEAR IN REVIEW IN ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

by John Heiney, Community Outreach Manager, City of Prescott

The City of Prescott Economic Development and Tourism offices were reorganized in early 2017. The new combined team has had a great deal of success in 2017, and is looking ahead to more of the same in 2018.

Here are some highlights from the city’s economic development efforts in 2017.

The city retained Jim Robb, of the Robb Group, to help the city attract high technology satellite offices. Robb’s strategy is to work with our institutes of higher learning and technology organizations to create symposiums and educational forums in Prescott. In August, the Arizona Technology Council (AZTech) hosted a summer conference, bringing nearly 100 CEOs and technology professionals to Prescott. The city joined AZTech, and will be hosting more similar events in the future. We also co-hosted a cyber security symposium along with Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in September, which brought another 75 tech executives and professionals to Prescott.

Two retailers made a big investment in Prescott. Wildflower Bread Company broke ground on its flagship store on Highway 69, near the entrance to the Gateway Mall. We expect the new store to be open in the first quarter of 2018. International beauty retailer Sephora opened a store inside JC Penney in September.

The Prescott Film Office is part of the Economic Development Office. This year, we welcomed “Wish Man,” a film about the founder of Make a Wish Foundation. This was the first feature-length film to be shot in Prescott in over 10 years. The film was shot in locations around the downtown, in Prescott neighborhoods, and in area locations. The film office also provided film permits for the indie film “Raising Buchanan,” and commercials for Eddie Bauer, REI, Bank of America and Mercedes Benz, to name a few.

The city employed Buxton Company to provide data, to inform new businesses about Prescott’s demographics, identify who our customers are, where they come from and how much they spend. This data has assisted in both retail recruitment and tourism-marketing decision-making.

Here are some other initiatives undertaken this year that have a direct impact on economic development:

  • We have worked with three large employers looking to expand and to utilize workforce tools to hire additional employees.
  • The city, chamber and Prescott Downtown Partnership have begun regular downtown business walks.
  • Prescott has been well-represented with commercial brokers both in town and in the Phoenix area, as well as professional organizations such as the Arizona Association of Economic Developers (AAED) Board, Yavapai County Workforce Development Board, NACOG Economic Development Council and State Film Commissioners.
  • The city recently hosted an AAED fall conference, hosting over 200 economic development professionals from around the state.
  • City Council established an entertainment district around the downtown, allowing for more flexibility in approving new businesses and encouraging promotion of our downtown as an arts, entertainment and cultural destination.
  • Council also approved an economic development policy, which focuses on emphasizing the city’s assets and creating a more business-friendly environment.

Looking ahead, the Economic Development and Tourism offices will work with Robb to bring a high technology conference to Prescott in spring 2018. We will be developing a new marketing platform for our economic development efforts, including a printed brochure and a new website platform to provide businesses with an easy-to-navigate, informative experience to help them decide to move to Prescott or expand their existing operations here.